About The Friends of The Vines
The Friends of The Vines is a community group dedicated to caring for and continuing the improvements in The Vines, a small Grade II listed park in the centre of Rochester. The group ensures that The Vines is a pleasant area to visit for both the local community and visitors to Rochester. The Friends Group works in partnership with Medway Council and Kent Wildlife Trust to support planting schemes, and also arranges regular events such as the Annual fundraising Cherry Picnic, Bug Days for children, and Bat events. In 2012, the group participated in Love Parks Week, with a “Tree Listening” Installation, and in November, planted a Jubilee tree donated by the Tree Council. 2013 has seen snowdrop planting, the “It’s a Bug’s Life” bug hunt, and the family Cherry Picnic, in glorious sunshine.
In 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 the Friends of The Vines was again awarded the prestigious Green Flag Award, We also received the Silver Gilt Award from RHS South and South East in Bloom in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
The group has approximately 90 members, who participate in occasional planting days, and are welcomed to events in The Vines. The Friends of The Vines liaises closely with the local primary school, St Margaret’s at Troy Town, holding an annual bulb planting day and involving school children in events in the park. The junior school recently held its sports day in The Vines.
Most of the following information has been taken from Medway Council’s website: www.medway.gov.uk
About The Vines
The Vines is an important local garden with a unique heritage and history. The Grade II listed park is situated a short distance from Rochester High Street within the Conservation Area, and is overlooked by some of Rochester’s most architecturally important buildings, including Restoration House where Charles II stayed on the eve of his restoration in 1660.
The Vines originally derived its name from the monks of nearby St. Andrews Priory who used the area as their vineyard. The park is known to have been a favourite haunt of Charles Dickens and is featured in several of his novels; he was seen walking in The Vines just three days before his death in 1870.
The park is owned by the Dean and Chapter of Rochester Cathedral, and has been leased to Medway Council and its predecessors as a public open space since 1880. A leaflet about The Vines and its history, produced by The City of Rochester Society, is available from the Visitor Information Centre, 95 High Street, Rochester.
In the storm of October 1987, The Vines lost more than 50 of its mature trees, many of which have since been replaced. One of the badly damaged, but still rooted Plane trees was carved into a sculpture of a monk by Robert Koenig in 1997. This became unstable and has been relocated to an area of the north-western border, that has been dedicated as a stag beetle habitat. The stump of the original monk sculpture remains and continues to be a stag beetle habitat
The Vines today
Today The Vines is a welcoming space, popular with families, which features an impressive avenue of mature London Plane trees, bordering a central path known as the Broad Walk. The park supports mature shrubberies and colourful herbaceous planting to encourage many wildlife species.
Medway Council has provided a number of bat, bird and bee boxes to encourage wildlife. The Vines is also a valuable educational resource for local schools, who use the park as part of their curricular activities.
Green Flag Award
In 2008 the park was first awarded the prestigious Green Flag Award – the national standard for quality parks and green spaces. The Green Flag award was also awarded in 2009, 2010, 2011; 2012; 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and more recently 2017. The Vines is rated in the top 5 per cent of Green Flag Awards in the country.
South and South East in Bloom award
The Vines was awarded Silver Gilt in 2012; 2013 & 2014 in the South and South East in Bloom awards, in the small park category.
City of Rochester Conservation Awards
In 2010 the park attracted the Conservation Award from The City of Rochester Society.
Kent Wildlife Trust Gardening for Wildlife Award
In 2010 The Vines was awarded a Silver Medal Award by Kent Wildlife Trust Gardening for Wildlife Awards.